For ‘Financial Times’, neo-Nazi groups challenge Brazil’s myth of racial democracy; racial inequality and racist sentiments unmasked myth decades ago

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Note from BW of Brazil: Sometimes when I see reports such as a recent one in the Financial Times, it’s actually a little funny to me. The reason being that I’ve been talking about these types of subjects for years. I know, I know, perhaps it’s still a bit surprising that some Brazilians adhere to racial/political beliefs that are deemed “extreme”, but I question why that would be surprising. Here we have a country in which the peoples and cultures of three races collided. One of those groups, descending from Europe decimated the group it discovered living in the land that would later become known as Brazil (Indians) and then enslaved millions of other (Africans) to provide the labor in the construction of the nation. Sure, many are led to believe that Brazil, another multi-racial nation, would be the exception to the rule, but after reading history and indeed modern reports and statistics one is faced with the truth: it is not the exception

“OK then, we can now admit that the idea of a ‘racial democracy’ is a sham, but Brazil still doesn’t have open followers of racial supremacy and supremacists groups, right?” Nope, that’s not true either. In fact, as has been documented just over the five years of the existence of the blog, we find in Brazil elements of behavior that are associated with violence, authoritarianism and white supremacy. For examples, read previous posts on lynchings and the existence of neo-Nazi movements that apparently caught the Financial Times by surprise. Perhaps another reason why people should do their own research on things rather than just depending on the news that the mainstream wants to share. 

Headline: “Bolsonaro, the ‘Brazilian Trump’, evaluates switching parties”

In the piece below you will also read a little about the right-wing congressman Jair Bolsonaro, who, while never being a specific focus on this blog has popped up from time to time due his headline making statements and controversial views. Bolsonaro is considered by many to be a strong candidate for the presidency in the 2018 elections which is prompting some supporters and the media to refer to him as the ‘Trump brasileiro’, meaning the ‘Brazilian Trump’, in reference to the American President-Elect. As the country is currently experiencing its worst economic crisis in decades with a current president (Michel Temer) that has implemented a number of devastating policies, the election could be a free for all. Polls from last December reveal that former President Lula da Silva being a front runner among top possible candidates but the same polls that Marina Silva, who made a strong run for the presidency in 2014, would actually beat him if it came down to a run off. 

Returning to the issue of neo-Nazi Brazilians, I repeat what I have said in the past. If we were only to pay attention to extreme elements of the society we would never seriously understand the racial issue. After all, Brazilians themselves like to judge their country as being better in terms of race relations in comparison to the US because of the non-existence of extremists groups such as the KKK, Skinheads or neo-Nazis. But as see, these groups DO in fact exist even if they have only being making headlines for a few decades. Here, we have a few things to consider.

One, Brazil once had the largest membership of Nazis outside of Germany due to heavy German immigration in the first half of the 20th century. Two, even if such groups didn’t exist 50-60 years, as Brazil has a long history of racist tendencies, it is of course possible that this train of thought has always existed but simply never manifested itself in large numbers. And three, today, very few Americans openly define themselves as members of the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazis or Skinheads, but no one would dare claim that racist sentiments no longer exist in the United States. This same argument must be applied to Brazil, where, as we know, only 1.3% of Brazilians openly declare themselves racist, yet we have seen overwhelming evidence of deeply-rooted racist sentiments and behavior for several decades and centuries if one considered the slavery era that began in the 16th century. With this history, the Financial Times shouldn’t have been surprised by what’s going on in Brazil. The history has been there all along. 

Cutout of ‘Financial Times’ article

‘Financial Times’: Neo-Nazi groups challenge the myth of racial democracy in Brazil

Ukrainian extremists recruited Brazilians to fight against pro-Russian rebels

An article published this Tuesday (10th) by the Financial Times talks about a new discovery that Brazil is gradually revealing, with regard to its political ideology and social equality. According to the report, when the Civil Police chief Paulo César Jardim ordered a series of searches in houses of supposed neo-Nazis in December last year, in Porto Alegre (capital of Rio Grande do Sul state), he couldn’t have imagined what he would discover.

“Death to northeasterners”

The Times reveals that Brazil’s latent neo-Nazi movement, with its underworld of violence, swastikas and hate propaganda, was having its members recruited by right-wing extremists in Ukraine to fight against pro-Russian rebels in the Ukrainian civil war, which began after Russia annexed Crimea in 2014.

The financial diary adds that according to César Jardim, the so-called Divisão Misantrópica (Misanthropic Division), an extreme Ukrainian right-wing movement, aligned with the right-wing paramilitary group Azov Battalion, which was incorporated into the Ukrainian National Guard, was behind the recruiting. After discovering the plan, the police are now investigating whether any Brazilian has joined the Ukrainian conflict. The revelation that Brazilian ultra-nationalist movements are seeking combat experience abroad is a worrisome phenomenon that shocked the country, which is considered a cauldron of racial mixing.

Report recalls episode in which Jair Bolsonaro quoted Ulstra, torturer of the military dictatorship, when voting in favor of the impeachment of president Dilma Rousseff.

Ultra right wing congressman Jair Bolsonaro during a pro-impeachment rally in 2015

The rise of neo-Nazi groups defies the popular myth that racism doesn’t exist in Brazil, according to the Financial Times. Although the far right is still marginal in Congress, ultranationalist politicians and their enthusiasts have been filling the void left after Dilma Rousseff’s impeachment.

2011 photo taken in São Paulo

While the far right is still seen as the shadow of the politics in a country that has freed itself from the military dictatorship in the mid-1980s, ultra-conservative politicians and their supporters are willing to fill a vacuum that has developed well in the impeachment vote of Former President Dilma Rousseff, of the Câmara dos Deputados (House of Representatives), when Jair Bolsonaro, a far-right congressman and former captain of the Brazilian army, quoted a historic torturer as he voted in favor of her exit from the presidency.

Still last year, a group of ultraconservatives invaded Congress and ripped out flags, calling for the return of the military government. Bolsonaro denied being a neo-Nazi, but critics accuse him of sharing many points of view of the movement, such as racism and intolerance.

Bolsonaro denies being a neo-Nazi, but critics accuse him of sharing many views of the movement

Neo-Nazi movements are concentrated mainly in the south and southeast of the country, from Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo to Rio Grande do Sul. These regions were the ones that in the past received the influx of immigrants from Germany, Poland and Italy, according to the text of the British journal.

Neo-Nazi sympathizers in Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais in Brazil’s southeast

According to analysts, the majority of the movements started on websites that propagate discurso de ódio (hate speech) on the internet. According to an article by anthropologist Adriana Dias, from Unicamp (University of Campinas), of the country’s 200 million inhabitants, 150,000 are sympathizers or involved in neo-Nazi movements.

Researcher Adriana Dias has tracked neo-Nazi groups for years; she finds that the movement has support in numerous states but is highly concentrated in the south and southeast of the country

“The violence expressed by these groups, whether in physical attacks on blacks, Jews or homosexuals, or the spread of their hate literature has demanded a lot of work in recent years,” Dias wrote.

Dias’ thesis is proven in the discovery of recruitment networks, such as the discovery by Jardim, in Nazi attacks against gay men on Avenida Paulista and in the growing prejudice against the northeasterners. The officer says that inflexibility of ideas is the main problem in dealing with these movements.

“These are not ordinary criminals, they have an ideology. They are people who believe in ethnic cleansing, racial purity,” says the chief.

Source: Jornal do Brasil

About Marques Travae 3747 Articles
Marques Travae. For more on the creator and editor of BLACK WOMEN OF BRAZIL, see the interview here.

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